We could see the glow of the city lights off in the distance as we approached Puerto Vallarta before sunrise. Once we closed to within a few miles, the outlines of the numerous hotel, apartments and condominiums started to take shape and the extent of city became more and more clear. This is a city of over 250,000 and is booming with tourists with over 3 million visiting every year.
At 8 AM the ship was cleared for guests to go ashore. We spent the morning relaxing in our cabin leaving the ship in the early afternoon. There is a small shopping area inside the port security zone along with a small bar. Right outside the port gate there is a taxi stand with a large sign posting the rates to take a cab to the various zones. We were going to the Boardwalk, which was in Zone 2, so the posted fare was $10 per person, which still seemed sorta high for a 4 mile cab ride, but we didn’t press it and agreed to the fare. More on this later.
The drive to the Boardwalk area took about 15 minutes taking us along a major thoroughfare lined with all types of stores, large and small. Based on the stores and the size of the non-tourist crowds shopping, the economy here appears to be doing ok, quite a contrast from other parts of Mexico.
We arrived near the McDonalds, headed down to the waterfront and started walking toward the Naval History Museum and the nearby Starbucks. Along the way we passed several interesting pieces of sculpture: some futuristic looking chairs which invite you to sit on them for photographs, a ladder with some figures at the top and again inviting you to climb the bottom rungs for a photo opportunity. About halfway down the boardwalk we spotted this interesting sculpture of a boy riding on a large seahorse.
The Naval History Museum is at the end of the boardwalk. The admission was 45 pesos for adults and 30 pesos for seniors. They accept USD for entry using a 15 to 1 exchange rate ( the official rate is 17 to 1). The museum is spread over 2 floors and the signs accompanying the exhibits are both in Spanish and English. It appears to have been recently remodeled as everything appeared to be new and in excellent repair. There was an interesting simulator on the second floor where you pretend to be driving a patrol boat under various weather conditions with your outside view displayed on 6 large flat screens. There were several displays showing the Mexican perspective of the various military engagements with the USA over the years. I always find it interesting to view events we have studied in school in the USA from a different perspective.
There was a Starbucks across the street from the Museum and we stopped in to see if they were selling the special location coffee mugs which Judy is collecting. They had one labeled “Mexico” which we bought for 200 pesos.
We headed up to look at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe nearby and walked down the side street so we could take a picture of the entrance.
Walking back to the Boardwalk, we stopped in a few souvenir shops picking up some key chains and post cards.
We had to be ready to leave the ship by 4:30 PM for our excursion “Rhythms of the Night” so we walked to a nearby corner where 3 taxis were waiting with their drivers standing on the corner chatting. I asked the lead driver how much to go back to the cruise ship and he said $5 per person or half the price of the trip from the ship. We accepted and were soon on our way, but the drive back took twice as long due to heavier traffic. Not sure why there was such a difference between the fares going vs. coming. If anyone with knowledge of the PV taxi situation knows the answer, please chime in.
We had time to get cleaned up before we needed to be in the Queen’s Lounge to meet our tour at 4:45. As we entered the Queens Lounge, it was completely empty – and after a quick look at my ticket – I discovered that our meeting place was on the pier – not the Queens Lounge. Fortunately we had time to spare and caught up with the group on the pier.
The “Rhythms of the Night” tour consisted of a 45 minute boat ride to Las Caletas Cove where we would enjoy an al fresco buffet dinner on the beach followed by the show called “Rhythms of the Night” and then return on the same boat back to the port.
As we arrived on the pier we saw two large groups of people standing under large tents. Both groups were for the same tour and it didn’t matter which tent we waited under. A little after 5 pm we started to walk down the pier to where the boats were waiting. There were 230 people on the tour (price $99 per person). We would be divided among two boats, with one large boat holding 175 people and the rest on the smaller boat.
We were in the first half of the lead group and were able to get seats on the lower level out of the hot sun. The people in the back of the group had to go upstairs to the open sun deck, which would have been pleasant had it not been so hot and humid. The last 50 people or so were sent over to the smaller boat, which had smaller decks, with both being covered and out of the sun.
Once we pulled away from the pier, waiters started serving a choice of beer, rum punch, margaritas, or cold bottles of water. We didn’t ask to see if they had iced tea, lemonade or any other soft drinks. The cold drink service never stopped and as soon as my glass was empty, a waiter would appear with a full tray of fresh drinks. Once the ship was clear of the harbor, the trip leaded explained how dinner would be served and what we could expect. There were 7 different serving areas or restaurants and each one would be serving the exact same menu – there wasn’t any need to look around at the different restaurants. As we boarded the ship we were asked for our group size and they sent this information ahead to make sure the tables were configured correctly so that when you checked in at the resort, they would match group size to the appropriate restaurant where there would be the right sized table ready.
After about 50 minutes we arrived at Las Caletas Cove and filed off onto a trail that led to the various restaurants. About every 50 yards there was a fork in the trail where they would ask for group size and depending on the answer, direct us into one of the restaurants or have us keep walking down the trail. Since there were only 2 of us, we kept going to the end where there were nothing but tables of two ready and waiting.
We did pass a gift shop along the way, but didn’t have time to stop there since we were being actively ushered to our dining table.
The open bar continued and once we were seated, a waiter appeared to take our drink order or offer red or white wine from the bottles on his tray. After we had our drinks we headed off to the buffet. The dinner was self-served buffet style, consisting of beef, chicken, fish and grilled shrimp, along with ravioli and a host of vegetables, sides and salads. We each filled up a plate and returned to our table which was in the sand about 10 feet from the water’s edge. All the tables are near the water and have fantastic views.
About 8pm we are asked to start heading to the Amphitheater about ¼ mile away, uphill, but not too bad. There isn’t really a bad seat in the place so there is no advantage to getting there early, especially since they have you sit, starting in the back at one end and then everyone follows in afterwards. Tip for future travelers – wait at your dining table until the last second possible – you will spend less time in the direct sun in the Amphitheater. There are free bottles of water available at the theatre entrance just before the photo opportunity with some of the actors from the show.
The show started with an actor dressed as an Aztec Indian walking down from the upper seats toward the stage, all the while mugging for cameras and working the crowd. This is a warm up act as the real show doesn’t start until 8:30.
Photography isn’t allowed during the show, not so much as to protect any photo sales, there aren’t any, but to avoid the distraction of everyone holding up cameras and flashes going off during the show.
There aren’t any spoken works in the performance, but there are singers vocalizing in the background to accompany the dancers and acrobats. One of the negatives about the show is that there wasn’t anything available that described the meaning of anything we were seeing. The show was purportedly journey thru the history of Mexico, but there wasn’t any way to follow anything like that or any semblance of a plot. The show is simply a spectacular visual display of dancers, acrobats and fire jugglers. Despite not having any plot, the show was quite entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. The running time was about 35 minutes.
Once the show is over, we walked back to our boats, without any time to stop at the gift shop or use the restroom. Note to future travelers: If you want to stop by the gift shop, do so immediately after dinner and before the show as there won’t be any time to do so after the show.
There were plenty more free drinks on the way back and the crew put on a humorous lip sync show during the last ½ hour of the trip. They ended up taking 2 pictures of everyone – one on boat going over and one right before the show started. They were for sale for $26 dollars and available for sale on the boat ride back.
We arrived around 10:35 – all aboard was 10:30 – and after our walk down the pier we weren’t back on the ship until 10:45.
Once we were back in our room we found a complimentary 8x 10 photograph from the Mariners Reception on our bed.
All in all, a very enjoyable excursion which I recommend to anyone who enjoys musical theater and dancing.This entry was posted in Uncategorized